MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran, Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack and Escambia, Ala. Sheriff Grover Smith were joined by numerous other law enforcement officials to speak out against Senate Bill 286.
Sheriff Smith showed the news media some photographs. But they definitely weren't from his family album.
"This is a neonazi holding a semi-automatic rifle and a swastika," he said, holding up a 5x7' glossy. "Here's a half naked girl with tattoos and a gun," he exclaimed, "a gang member. Here's another idiot, a white guy with a swastika!," he said sternly, "These is a group of Latino gang members with a fully automatic weapon."
Sheriff Smith was standing at a podium Wednesday, at the Mobile County Sheriff's Office. He was surrounded by law enforcement from several local cities and counties.
"Do you want those people to have guns?" he said, poking the pile of prints. "Tell me, who do you want me to give a pistol to? You want all of them to get one? Because, if I find these pictures on Facebook, I can't use them to deny them a permit because you all have taken that away from us!"
In this case, "you all" is an Alabama Senate committee that gave its nod of approval to new proposed gun legislation in the state.
It's a bill that, they say, if passed into law, would prevent local sheriffs from using their own discretion in denying people permits to carry a concealed weapon.
"This means forcing the sheriff to put pistols in the hands of people with mental health issues, previous arrest records, the town drunk, and numerous other reasons the sheriff currently used in his discretion for them not to be issued a permit," said Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran.
The bill is SB 286, and it's now on the Senate floor. After seeing initial support for the bill, then Wednesday's outrage from law enforcement, Alabama State Senator Rusty Glover (R-34) doubts the bill will even reach a floor vote. "As written I would say it is difficult." Glover said from his home. He said without discussion and changes to the bill, a filibuster would likely delay discussion in the Senate, much less ever reaching the House.
What's also raised their dander is another part of the bill. One they say would allow pistols in cars without concealed carry permits.
"In essence," said Cochran, "it would allow teenagers to drive around with pistols in their vehicles."
But these law keepers aren't putting all the blame on the state legislature.
"Our legislature is terrified of the gun lobby," Sheriff Smith said, sternly. "And let's be clear about one thing: the National Rifle Association is made up of people just like you see standing here. But the majority of their money doesn't come from the membership, it comes from the gun manufacturers."
Baldwin Sheriff Hoss Mack was also critical.
"You know, every sheriff in the state of Alabama has taken an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the Alabama Constitution," said Mack. "But we also have an oath to the public safety of our communities. We are taking away no gun rights. We are not asking for any new laws. We're not asking that any law be taken away."
"It's ridiculous," chimed in Cochran. "It's the worst piece of legislation I've ever seen! Republicans are not being Republicans, elected officials are not serving the public!"
Republican state senator from Semmes, Rusty Glover is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Glover says they've got a lot of problems right now on the senate floor, and that could halt the passage of any heavily debated bill this session.CLICK HERE
to see the bill.